Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Sat 29 + Sun 30 Sept
It’s Hoyfest 2018, and although Clwb Ifor Bach remains fairly quiet for the first few hours into Saturday’s line-up, the venue sparkles with its glittery decor and silver balloons spelling HOY – a dedication to festival organiser, Sam Hoy, who can be spotted darting around Clwb ensuring all is going to plan.
The Rotanas take their opening act status in their stride and deliver their first festival appearance: although the audience numbers are lacking, the band’s presence is loud. They perform new single Man For The Job as frontman Harry Watton confirms the release of their EP in January, which will be worth the wait for sure. Fire Fences [bottom] trigger crowd engagement thanks to catchy choruses and rock heavy guitar riffs, their performance enjoyed by other acts on the day’s lineup. An appearance from Sam Hoy’s own band, Bute, in which he plays guitar, proves that he can do it all.
As the evening draws in, Hoy-goers are reminded that it is in fact a Saturday night – one which brings wild sets from the likes of Black Waters, a punk foursome from Guildford whose frontman exudes confidence and endless energy singing passionately on the floor at one point. Let The Good Times Roll sparks fire: the perfect festival anthem. Yorkshire’s Avalanche Party [above] impress (and possibly shock) audiences with a stage presence which sees frontman Jordan Bell pick up a table, hold it above his head, and place it on the floor amongst the crowd to perform on – a definite highlight of the night.
The night is closed by Himalayas, who return to Hoyfest for the third time running, this time at the top of the bill. Their performance is flawless, one that represents a hard-working year for the band, with the inclusion of both brand new music and crowd favourite Ecstasy.
The Sunday lineup features more laidback sets, generally speaking, such as indie-rockers Fosette; bops like Strawberry getting a boogie going in the crowd. Despite lower audience numbers compared with Saturday, electronic trio XY&O rouse us later in the evening with songs like Dive and their cheeky chap frontman. And if you’re looking for a new band with melodic vocals and dreampop sound, Heavy Lids played a memorable set upstairs in the afternoon. Carolines, probably one of the best bands on the Cardiff scene at the moment, are another afternoon highlight. Their tightness as a band shows in their solidity as a live unit, and singles like Blow The Gasket – through regular showings on local lineups, this song has gained anthem status of sorts, and a few familiar faces bellow out the chorus.
No Hot Ashes’ [top] disco-funk style brought smiles to many faces and, delightfully, some more dance moves to their crowd. Songs like Goose and Smooth (No Bits) had a contagious energy to them which caused the crowd – encouraged by the band – to jump on stage and finish their set with them. Closing Hoyfest were Anteros. After enjoying summer festival slots and supporting Two Door Cinema Club, this little crowd in Cardiff was something frontwoman Laura Hayden could get more involved in, delivering her vocals over dreampoppy songs like Drunk and dragging fans onstage to become her dancing partners.
Hoyfest 2018 ended with a lovely little collection of people whose faith in the Cardiff music scene remains. Though a shame the numbers this year seemed low, this was its first weekend at Clwb Ifor Bach in its third year, and it can only get bigger. Right Cardiff?
words and photos AMY FARRER / DALI POULSOM